Lyle Chester Nye (
Apriil 27, 1917 - December 31, 2016 )
Lyle Chester Nye, of Midland, died Dec. 31. He was 99.
Despite his efforts to live indefinitely — including daily exercise, regular whiskey cocktails, and meals of meat and potatoes — Lyle died a day shy of his 101st calendar year and just months after acing his “aging driver” road test.
Lyle was born in 1917 to Adron and Emma (Culver) Nye in a small house near the railroad track and a potato warehouse in Manton, Michigan. Lyle was the eighth of 10 siblings. He outlived all his brothers and sisters: Amos, May, Marion, Virgil, Irvan, Frank, Ardath, Dorothy and Helen.
When Lyle was a small boy, they were a sharecropping family, sleeping three to a bed. Lyle loved working alongside his dad on the farm, especially taking care of the animals; his love for horses would last his lifetime. Lyle graduated from Manton High School in 1935 and set off to find work with $2 and his father’s blessing. His first job was as a farmhand in Nashville, Michigan.
Lyle married Myrtle Withenbury in Angola, Indiana, in 1941. They would have two sons, Douglas and Kevin, and share a life made rich by friends, family, work and adventure.
Staff Sgt. Nye served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946, serving as an instructor and in the Counter Intelligence Corps. He was based in Oklahoma, Maryland, the Philippines, and Japan after its surrender.
Lyle made his living for a few years in the construction trades in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Midland before going to work at what’s now MidMichigan Medical Center. He retired in 1982 after 25 years as its director of engineering and maintenance at the hospital, where his duties included supervision of major construction projects. After his retirement Lyle was honored by the medical center as a Distinguished Supporter.
He was a founding member of the East Central District Society of Hospital Engineers, serving as its first president. He was a past-president of the Michigan Society of Hospital Engineers.
Outside of work, Lyle enjoyed his family, traveling and outdoor life, especially sailing and skiing.
He and Myrtle traveled to all 50 states, the Caribbean and Europe. In retirement, they spent summers for 14 years aboard their sailboats docked at Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay in Petoskey, where they lived among sailing friends and embarked on voyages ranging from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks, including journeys to Lake Huron’s North Channel.
Lyle skied the Alps, Rockies, Selkirks, and many other peaks. As a member of its 70-plus club, Lyle skied for free at Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs for decades before finally packing up his gear at 92.
Myrtle passed away in 2008. Lyle is survived by sons Doug (Sandra Blank), of Midland, and Kevin (Julie), of Sandpoint, Idaho.
His grandchildren are Adrian Rogers (Jonathan Brunt); Delaney Nye (Allison Riese); and Daniel Nye. His great-grandchildren are Hazel and Alice Rogers-Brunt; and Nye Riese.
His survivors also include Lyle’s dear friend and companion, Eileen Funke, and her daughters Cheryl (Mark) Authier and Mary (Larry) Leblanc and their families, as well as his many nieces and nephews. Lyle’s family is grateful for more than 30 years of care provided to Lyle by Dr. Craig Sonke and his staff.
Funeral services will be held at 12 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Midland with the Rev. Gerald Ferguson officiating. Interment will follow in the Midland Cemetery.
Members of Lyle’s family will receive friends before the service, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Those wishing an expression of sympathy should consider donations in Lyle’s memory to MidMichigan Health or to a charity of their choice.
On line condolences can be left at smithminer.com. Smith-Miner Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
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